Homosexuality Is Ruining Traditional Marriage (And So Is Heterosexuality)

Gay marriage.

Two people who love each other, want to spend the rest of their lives together, and bring out the best in each other, who are both male or both female.

It’s a simple concept, really, but one that’s become perhaps the most hot-button issue in the U.S. because it clashes with evangelical Christianity, which pervades public consciousness and shapes policy despite the nominal separation of church and state.

The uproar from conservative voices is that gay marriage is a threat to traditional marriage.

They’re not wrong. They’re just not completely right either…because straight marriage, as it exists in our culture, is just as much of a threat to traditional marriage.

What is “traditional marriage”? The nuclear-family dynamic of the 1950s? The institution as carried through church history, therefore predominantly by Roman Catholicism? “Biblical” marriage? Images of Biblical marriage have made their way around Facebook for years now. Here’s one:

Biblical marriage.

I shouldn’t need to comb through the Scriptures like I did in my last series to convince you that there’s no such thing as “Biblical marriage”, or that if there is, it frequently looks nothing like “traditional marriage” between a man and a woman. That’s one problem with grounding a definition of marriage in our ancient sacred text. The other problem is cultural; the history of marriage, within the history of civilized humanity, is patriarchal and androcentric. Marriage, by tradition, is about a man acquiring a wife (or wives) for himself for the purposes of procreation, social acceptance/advancement, homemaking, and/or just because it’s part of the culture. Grow up, get a wife. That’s what you do. The woman has little to no say about whether she wants to marry the man. The remnants of this androcentrism are visible in the fact that, even today, most women take their husband’s last name at marriage, symbolizing a transfer from her family into his – never the other way around, because patriarchy means that it’s always the husband and father whose name carries the legacy. This is perfectly exemplified in the panel above labeled “Rapist + his victim”, which combines androcentrism (the raped virgin is obligated to marry her assailant – won’t that be a happy and enduring relationship? – and the man may never divorce her; a woman divorcing her husband was unheard of in this culture) and women-as-property (the rapist had to pay his victim’s father in cash for his new wife).

If not the Bible, where did we acquire this concept of “traditional” marriage? Like most enduring facets of Christianity, we got it from…the Romans. Some quick research on Wikipedia reveals the progression of the concept of “marriage”. Beginning with the nomads and extending to ancient Israel, a wife generally had her own private area in which to live, and was expected to perform wifely duties like sewing, cooking and farming. The husband’s responsibility was basically to care for her with food and shelter and not neglect her. Neither stated nor implied is any hint of love or romance – or consent or choice. The ancient Greeks had no wedding ceremony, simply allowing any two consenting parties (presumably heterosexual) to enter into marriage by mutual agreement. Yet this model preserved patriarchy: “Married Greek women had few rights”, and “Inheritance was more important than feelings” – even to the point that a married woman whose father died without having a son could be forced to divorce her husband and marry her closest male relative to preserve the family line. Then once we hit ancient Rome, we get a form of marriage called conventio in manum which required a ceremony to establish (or dissolve), made the woman legally separated from her family and part of her husband’s, and placed the woman under her husband’s authority. That, with some cultural tweaks, more or less reflects our concept of “traditional marriage” today.

But again, such ancient traditions of marriage viewed the institution as contractual, legal, social – not necessarily emotional, romantic, and consensual. No longer do we live in a culture with dowries, betrothals, and explicit patriarchal transaction of women as property. In our culture, men and women are free to pursue and reject one another, to date and court, to explore their “hearts” and search for their “soulmate”, their “true love”. A woman is not simply sold or given away by her father to a suitor; she is free to decide for herself whom she will marry. This is novel; this is radical; this is wonderful; but this is a far cry from any “traditional” concept of marriage. Our modern culture of gender equality, romantic love, mutual consent, and free choice has already undermined “traditional marriage”. It’s not homosexuality that’s ruining traditional marriage – it’s sexuality.

You know what ruins marriage?  Divorce. Adultery. Pornography. Financial irresponsibility. Abuse – physical, emotional, and psychological. Greed. Selfishness. Laziness. Plenty of things.

But two human beings loving each other and wanting to commit their lives to each other? Ruining marriage? That shouldn’t be on the list. Homosexuals aren’t ruining marriage, they’re assimilating it, adopting it, enhancing it, and honoring it – the same way heterosexuals have been doing for centuries as they transformed it within their culture.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. wherewestand
    May 08, 2013 @ 14:05:50

    I fear we have succumb to the popular trend of adjectives. “Traditional” placed before marriage is by grammar definition, an adjective. God didn’t write in adjectives, we did. God spoke what he meant, not with variables. We add traditional before marriage. We add variables to justify our conformity and redefinition of life. God simply said man and woman would unite to become a union, a marriage.

    I think you bring up an excellent point. I also think you leave out an important point. God didn’t call it traditional marriage, we have. God defined a union, a marriage, to be between a man and woman, beginning with Adam and Eve. The perversion of what we have chosen to do with sexual relations is our fault and yes you are right, we have ruined marriage, not “traditional marriage.”

    We all need to eliminate the adjective. Consider “gay” marriage or “gay” Christian, again the word “gay” is an adjective. Consider “straight” marriage, “straight” Christian, again the word “straight” is an adjective. Why?

    We use adjectives to distinguish the lifestyle we choose to have, not what God defined us to have.

    Sin or as you argue, sin in “sexuality” is ruining marriage and I completely agree. Excellent point my friend. I also argue sin is ruining God’s original design for everything, not just marriage. It has gotten so bad that we have to define Christianity with adjectives such as, “Real” Christian, or “Genuine” Christian.

    We live in a world where we are no longer defined by what God says, but by what we say God says. That is scary.

    Thank you for your research and input. Again excellent point Matt.

    Reply

  2. Angela C
    May 08, 2013 @ 14:38:39

    Interesting article. If we want to see God’s definition of marriage we need to look at what He said before the Fall. Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” This was God’s idea of becoming one flesh that we now call marriage. Then the Fall happened. All those things you pointed out in the OT were not God’s idea of “becoming one flesh.” It was man’s. It was tolerated because of the hardness of their hearts. Patriarchy was not God’s plan — the man was to leave his father and mother and be united with his wife and be one family unit. Patriarchy was fallen man’s idea. But then comes the New Covenant — Christ. He redeems what was lost at the Fall — all of it. We are now capable of being made alive to God and all His power to be who and what he originally created us to be — united with Him and with one another. Christ quoted Genesis 2:24 and said divorce was permitted because of the hardness of their hearts. But that wasn’t God’s plan. His plan was redeemed on the cross but you and I know we live in a fallen world that is groaning for the return to its original purpose.
    You are so right that it is “sin” (adultery, fornication, divorce, lust, greed, etc) affecting the quality of the union. I Corinthians 6 gives us the motivation for sexual responsibility. I don’t think we are consciously aware of this truth — our bodies are sacred, His temple. We house the presence of a Holy God. We are sanctified and set apart as holy for His use; not for doing whatever pleases our flesh. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.”[b] 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

    I Cor. 6: 18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body[c] and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
    Read it in “The Message” which makes it even more plain.

    We as Christians need to repent of our selfish, sinful ways. This needs to be a wake-up call to all of us. We’re getting caught up in the Gospel of ‘lower expectations” rather than the Gospel of Grace that sets us free to choose to appropriate the resurrection power of Christ in us to say “no” to ungodliness and yes to holiness.” No, we cannot do it on our own — but with God we can do all things because it is His power that performs it in us.

    Thanks for starting the conversation. It’s one we need to have.

    Reply

  3. fred
    May 08, 2013 @ 15:24:05

    Sin is defined by society. The society that existed so long ago needed to procreate and set laws in place to encourage such activity. God is a socail construct, an idea.The words of god from any religion can not be proven to be such or disproven to be such . But a little research will reviel that “his ” laws are designed to run an efficent socail construct, a society. The same as governments of today .So that is what i suggest ‘he’ is the first government, rules written by the first athority ( who where people) to establish order. Some of the rules no longer apply, the ones that do are based on the pscychology of our species and that is why they work.If you believe in god , then let him sort them out in the end.

    Reply

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